When Theresa May launched what she called ‘my manifesto’ just over a month ago, she batted away questions about whether it was a Mayite document. But this was faux-modesty. The manifesto was a deliberate move away from traditional Tory thinking. May and her team believed that her own standing with the public meant that she could pull off this shift without proper consultation with her Cabinet.
But now, with her authority shot, May cannot try and do this. The Queen’s Speech didn’t include many of the Mayite policies that she had stood on in the general election. If it was not for the Brexit legislation, this would have been a very thin Queen’s Speech. As one Cabinet Minister who was sceptical of the manifesto puts it, ‘Government is about what you don’t do, as well as what you do. The appetite for intervention in the market is diminished’.
Adding to May’s troubles is that the deal with the DUP is still not done. The DUP are proving predictably tough negotiating partners. As I said on Saturday, the joke in Number 10 is that if you sent the DUP in to do Brexit ‘a large part of Europe would be handed over to us.’
The latest reports are that the DUP are demanding a billion more to be spent on the NHS and infrastructure as the price of their support. But there is growing Tory concern about the optics of sending money to Northern Ireland to keep themselves in power.
One protest that Theresa May seems to have dodged, though, is the one over the Donald Trump state visit. It wasn’t mentioned in the speech indicating that it has either been postponed or downgraded. I hear that one option being discussed via diplomatic channels is for Trump to come and see the Queen and the Prime Minister but for it not to be a full-blown state visit and, therefore, no need for processions with all the opportunities for protest that they provide.